I was standing by the barricade at the "Under the Sun" tour stop in Boston watching the bands of my childhood; Uncle Kracker, Sugar Ray, Smash Mouth, and Blues Traveller! At one point, there was a body walking between the barricade and the stage and as he got closer, I recognized him to be the guitarist of Smash Mouth, Sean Hurwitz! He stopped and chatted with eager fans, taking pictures, and even handing out a handful of guitar picks (glow-in-the-dark too, so cool). Needless to say, I got to take a picture with him, got a pick, and ultimately this interview. Sean is an amazing guitarist and an awesome person as well. He takes great care in getting to know his fans as individuals which is exactly what Key Percussion is about. So, it was obviously a huge honor to be able to ask him some questions.
What is the most challenging aspect of filling Greg Camp's shoes as guitarist of Smash Mouth?
Greg is an exceptional guitarist with really cool tones and parts! Thankfully, acclimating to his style was not hard at all because we play very similarly. I think the harder shoes to fill in are the Song Writing shoes. The guy is simply a GREAT lyricist and song writer…and I do not even come close to filing THOSE shoes.
Do you feel comfortable going to Steve Harwell with ideas?
I absolutely feel comfortable with that. Steve and I have great chemistry on and off stage.
How has your individual music evolved since joining Smash Mouth?
I’m always growing as an artist and a musician. Working with “Smash Mouth” and touring with all the “Under The Sun” bands pushes me to try new things all the time.
If you weren't doing music, what would you be doing instead?
I’m a sound engineer by trade…so if music didn’t work out, I’d either be involved in Live Touring as a FOH or Monitor engineer…OR, I always had my eyes on being a Fire Fighter. Knowing how hard it is to get into that field in California…I’m glad music worked out.
What happened in 2012 when you left Smash Mouth for a brief period of time?
I simply had prior engagements that were scheduled for later that year. So when we got back, I had to fulfill them.
Did you know about Smash Mouth/were you a fan before you began performing with them?
Being from Israel, I KNEW “Smash Mouth” and their hits…obviously I knew Shrek and their contribution to it. What I didn’t realize is how much of an institution they were HERE in the US. I mean, EVERYONE knows the ‘Shrek Band’, especially if they are younger. And if they are a bit older, “All Star” WAS the song of their generation. Honestly I’m a much bigger fan NOW that I see what Smash Mouth’s work meant to the fans and the 90’s kids.
How did you end up playing for Smash Mouth and how was that experience for you?
Well, my buddy Randy Cooke (drummer for Dave Stewart, Ringo Starr, Mick Jagger, Five For Fighting, Kelly Clarkson, The Voice etc etc etc) called me in Feb 2011 and asked if I was available for 3 weeks…he didn’t say for what….but when Randy calls, I’m available! He’s THAT guy! You WANT to be available when Randy calls you for a gig! Anyway, long story short, 6 days later and over 100 hours of cramming 23 songs (wouldn’t even THINK about using charts for this kind of Rock show), I was on my way to Iraq and Kuwait to play for the troops. THAT, by far, has been THE most amazing experience of my life. You see, coming from Israel, I LIVED through “Desert Storm” in ’90-‘91. I would run into our “safe” room and put on the child size gas mask with the rest of my family as the sirens were blaring all over the country! So…to find myself 20 years later…WALKING AROUND Saddam Husseins’ palaces…WOW! What a surreal experience!!! Think about it this way, how many Israelis do YOU think had a chance to walk around those palaces. I’d be guessing the number is VERY low. Anyway, AMAZING experience on every level, especially being an Israeli and especially since my first tour with the band was playing for the troops.
As a musician and a music lover, what are your views on pirating music?
This is a touchy subject and therefore I’m not claiming I know the answer to this issue and I’m open to debates on it…but my response to that question is “Welcome to the 21st century”. This is the age of the internet and P2P sharing. I don’t THINK Pirating is going anywhere any time soon. Soooooo….how about we (musicians) get smart and figure out new ways to make a living as musicians. Come up with new cool things to offer fans! Things that make us money! Albums don’t sell any more (not like they did), it’s a fact of life. It happens in EVERY industry and in every generation. It’s our job as musicians and business people to get more creative in situations like these.
I know that Smash Mouth has a long, past, but what can fans expect in the future? Anything new we can look forward to?
We ARE working on new track and new material. Also, we have a Live Album coming out soon. It’s from live shows we’ve recorded over the last year or so. So yes, new stuff coming your way soon.
It's not often you see musicians really walking along the barricade to talk to fans, and you seemed very patient with everyone. What makes you want to do that?
One of my passions on the road is meeting people. It’s as simple as that. Some people like to walk around, see the city…I like to meet the locals. That’s all there is to it. The fact that it means a lot to the fans just makes it even more fun for me. I’m happy to do it and I’m never in a rush unless the bus is taking off OR if I’ve got guests to entertain backstage OR if the crowd is getting kicked out.
In my mind, I’m still a simple Israeli guy that is getting to play music and meet cool people all over the world. LOVE it!
Nowadays, it's much harder to stay on track and follow your passions when there's pressure from society to get a more steady job - what advice would you give to aspiring musicians facing that decision on whether or not to give up?
My advice is simple. In ANY job you take on, I feel that if you want to “make it”, you gotta hustle! And by hustle, I mean, you have to MAKE things happen. Don’t just EXPECT stuff to come your way. Don’t WAIT for stuff to happen…MAKE it happen.